Sunday 16 August 2009

Death, Tragedy, Profits and Corruption

ON July 13th 2007 an RMAF Nuri helicopter crashed into a deep ravine in the dense forest 5km to the west of the Genting Sempah Tunnel. Six Air Force crewmembers were killed in that crash. I remember images of the ambulance lined up on the grounds of the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital as the first of the helicopters carrying the bodies of these Crew Members came into sight. Silent crowd watch with all eyes on the families of those waiting for the arrival of their love one now dead.  As you hear the instantly recognizable sound of the helicopter when it came to land you can feel the sorrow touching everyone there. There was not much to say as they carried the first body of the aircrew from the helicopter to the waiting ambulance. I remember too that there was no anger in me that day. Only sadness.

Today when I think about that moment and knowing what I know now – that just on that Razak Baginda case Ringgit $500 million was paid out as commission on the purchase of the three submarines – I asked myself if those six aircrews should have died? I remember Najib hastily announcing Cabinet’s decision to phase out the Nuri. Again the Government reacting after the fact. The billions of Ringgit spent  on Mindef  tenders were really simply an excuse for cronies of politicians to make hideous amounts of money for themselves and their UMNO political masters. If there had been accountability for every Ringgit spent on Mindef – would there not be enough money to prevent that Nuri crash from happening? Better maintenance, better trained Air Force crew maybe even enough money to start the phasing out of the Nuri long before their continued use could ever present a hazard to our RMAF air force crew?

The three submarines bought are a disaster waiting to happen. I do not know much about submarines but this I know.  RM$500million have already been spent on commission – okay if Najib wants to be technical on ‘services rendered’. Many more millions are going to be milked from this submarine project. Many more millions for many more friends and many more UMNO politicians. At what cost? For the country and us it is our tax money. To the Navy? Cutting of corners to squeeze out every single cent that they can would compromise safety issues and the readiness of our Navy to meet challenges that will surely come as they put these submarines into service.  How long before a disaster happens because of these ‘cutting of corners’?  Like the Nuri carsh – one death is one death too many for the Malays and for the country. But of what concern is this for those who have already profited from this project?

Compared to the Police the Army is relatively corruption free if we talk about the number of Mindef people involved in the actual taking of money. For PDRM corruption is on a massive scale because it is the rank and file in their thousands spread out all across the nation who extort money from the public.  But the level of corruption within Mindef is on a class of its own. Because the opportunity to make money in Mindef lies with the tenders and contracts it awards out.  And it is no Chicken feed. I am still waiting for something that will give the Razak Baginda’s commission a run for its money. It is there somewhere in Mindef – but it has not come out yet. It is ironic that while there is more money to be made in Mindef – the recipient of this largeness are usually outsiders – the cronies of politicians and their conspirators with a few Generals thrown in.

The corruption market is very much the same as the share market – it is build on the back of supply and demand and influenced by external factors like the PDRM, MACC, UMNO and what the sitting Prime Minister would or would not allow to happen. In all seriousness they all take money because they really think that they will not be caught. Let us not go into the right and wrongs of doing it because it is a no brainier.

Political corruption, the dysfunction of a political system or institution in which government officials, political officials or employees seek illegitimate personal gain through actions such as bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft, and embezzlement. Wilkipedia.

The Rank and File in PDRM will not be involved in corruption if they think that there are going to be caught. The Politicians are involved in corruption because they think that they are the ‘powers that be’ to decide if they can or cannot steal money from the country’s coffers. And in Malaysia they are the ones who decides  - that is until now. Hopefully Pakatan Rakyat  will make a difference to this practice soon.

What makes corruption stand out in Malaysia is the breathtaking audacity of some of these thieves. The amount of money they take is mind boggling as to beg the question – is the cabinet also instructed to close one eye? Aisehman if cabinet can do it then that  Barisan MP from Jasin was within his power to ask the Malacca Custom and Excise office to close ‘one eye’ in a case involving the import of sawn timber which had breached the regulation! Now I understand his anger when the custom were not compliant to his request.

This massive wave of corruption that has robbed the country blind must be stopped. The change cannot come from within the Government or Barisan–they are part of the problem, not the solution–it must come from without. Our country has emerged from the dark days of repression and nepotism of Mahathir only to find yourself going helter skelter into a world of madness of Najib. He thinks that if he ignores the elephant of corruption and excesses that are inside his living room it will eventually go away. The collapse of the ‘Bersih, Amanah dan Cekap’ from Tun Hanif’s day to the current “Tak Nak” to Rasuah says it all.

If we cannot trust our Prime Minister to do the right thing – who then? They wanted to create a core of Malay businessman/millionaires that would act as a catalyst to the growth of other Malay businessman. The problem is that these core of Malay (read UMNO) millionaires have built their business and money on filth and rotting waste that will devour them as UMNO ceases to be able to keep feeding them as the people says ENOUGH!!

This story is not complete without a flashback to Mahathir’s time – just in case he starts his “ Not during my time” shindig. I want to take you back to the days when Suria KLCC was the Selangor Turf Club. My memory is not that good now days so if these figures that I am quoting is a bit out do correct me.

Selangor Turf Club with 40ha of land was instructed to move out of the city supposedly to ease traffic congestions in the area on weekends when the races took place. At that point of time the land was zone Agricultural.

Ananda purchased the land from DBKL on the advice of a dear and personal friend who shall remain nameless. No I am not going to say whether it was Mahathir or the son of Mohamad – I said that he would remain nameless!! I believe Ananda paid about RM300 million for that piece of agricultural land – ajaib tapi benar!

The land was then converted for commercial use. Petronas was instructed to buy the land from Ananda ‘at market value’. Again the advisor (ahem ahem!!) who advised Petronas to purchase the land and build the HQ there shall also remain nameless. Land was valued at around RM 1b.

Ananda kept 30% of the land and pocketed RM700 million and still had 30% of the whole deal. Good business deal for Ananda. Bad for Petronas. Bad for Rakyat. Why not instruct Petronas to buy the land direct from DBKL and cut out Ananda? You tell me. 

Now in defense of Pak Lah he did not condone corruption. He just did not want to know about it. I rest my case

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